First to the playground

It's Team Penbook's summer of slog

We planned on Penbook iOS being a stress-free project that simmered on a backburner for a year while we rested on our laurel. (We just have the one laurel, from being a finalist in a Microsoft popularity contest last year.) 

That plan lasted until WWDC 2019, when Apple announced PencilKit and SwiftUI. Apple did exactly what we did with the original Penbook: they took a good, hard look at Windows Ink, added a few things, and called it a day.

On one hand, an app like Penbook became more achievable for our small team. On the other hand, our willingness to do unpleasant things had been our main competitive advantage (cf. succeeding in the Microsoft Store), and PencilKit makes developing a writing app a lot more pleasant for everyone.

Now, motivated by overwhelming FOMO on the eve of the next ‘design playground’, we’re targeting a September release alongside iOS 13, so long as Apple lets SwiftUI apps into the App Store then.

If you’re coming over from Windows, you should know that this Penbook is different. Whereas the Windows version mutated into an all-you-can-annotate beast for marking up 500-page textbook PDFs, Penbook iOS is going back to what made the app a success in the first place: templates, more than you can count, and like you’ve never seen them before. Imagine a thousand variations of Harry Potter’s dayplanner. 

As our release gets closer, stay tuned for more dev notes, sneak previews of features, and, eventually, an invitation to the beta.

Today’s sneak preview: Dynamic templates